Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Polly meets Jacqueline Harvey!

A couple of weeks ago, following my interview with bestselling children's author Jacqueline Harvey, my sister and I were very lucky to have the opportunity to meet Jacqueline Harvey and her husband Ian in Chelsea. It was a lovely morning; Polly was very excited to meet her favourite author and get a goodie bag filled with Alice-Miranda treats and have the opportunity to ask some hard-pressing questions written down in her notebook! We also went to a gorgeous typically-Chelsea cafe where Polly was allowed to gorge herself on all of the chocolate treats she could manage. It was a very special meeting that was not only exciting and interesting but inspiring for Polly and myself... It is always profitable to be able to see inside a successful author's mind!

Here is the interview transcript from Polly's questions to Jacqueline:

Why is Alice-Miranda’s name so long?

Her parents had very long names, and didn’t know what to call her, so they called her the whole lot altogether! That’s why she has this incredibly long name. And when she met Millie, who also has a big funny long name, I wanted there to be something they had in common from the moment that they met, even though Millie never uses her full name, because it is so long she would never be able to remember it!

How did you come up with her name?

First of all I wrote down the name ‘Miranda’ because I liked that name. One of my sisters had a friend in High School called Miranda and she was a really lovely girl and I had always liked that name! But then I thought I should make it ‘Miranda-something’. So I wrote ‘Miranda-Anna’, ‘Miranda-Kate’ and ‘Miranda-Alice’ because they were quite short names. I didn’t like any of them! I rubbed out the top two but I still had 'Miranda-Alice' on the whiteboard. I had to go and answer a phone call and when I came back I looked at the board and thought ‘Aha! What if I swapped the names around?’  So I rewrote it as Alice-Miranda and I thought that was a cute name- it rolls off the tongue. I’ve never met an ‘Alice-Miranda’ before in my years of teaching. I worked on the last name for a long time- I wanted it to be easy to remember even though it was really long. I tested it on the kids at my school and I asked them how long it would take them to remember it- it took them about five minutes! 

Have you written any other books?

I have! My very first series was called the Code Name series and it had three books in it. It was about a little girl and it was set on the beach in Australia. I have also written a picture book called The Sound of The Sea, which won an Honour Book award in Australia with the Children’s Book Council. 

What is your favorite colour?

My favourite colour is pink! I like blue as well. 

Do you have any pets?

We don’t have any pets at the moment because we travel so much - it wouldn’t be very fair to have a dog who would be pining away at home. When I was a little girl we had a very naughty Labrador, as well as German shepherds, Burmese cats, a whole bunch of chickens and two horses. When I write about Alice-Miranda’s pony, Bonaparte, he has the characteristics of a horse I owned as a little girl.

What inspired you to write Alice-Miranda?

I was a teacher for a really long time and I worked in boarding schools. There was one particular young boarder in my class who I thought was very brave, like Alice-Miranda is! I wanted to write stories that were about school because that was somewhere I had always been. I also thought about stories I loved as a little girl. My favourite books were Heidi and Black Beauty. I also loved the idea of writing a mystery or detective story and that’s how it all came to be!

What is it like in boarding school?

At boarding school it’s quite good fun - the girls sometimes get really homesick which is really sad, though. At the last school I worked at the girls had a puppy and a rabbit and a cat at one stage, so they get to have some pets. It’s much more fun than I thought it would have been, and a lot less scary than what I was led to believe as a child. My mum and dad used to say to me that if I didn’t stop fighting with my sisters I would be sent to boarding school. I used to think boarding school was like jail for little kids! But of course it’s nothing like that at all.

Here's what Polly had to say about the morning:

As Alix, Mum, Dad and I entered Chelsea, my heart was pounding. I was so exited! I had never had never sat down and had a proper talk with an author before. Waiting for the author to approach, I was nervous. What if she thought I was weird? She was here! Jacqueline Harvey! I couldn’t believe my eyes. Once we had all met we started to walk to a nearby coffee shop, as that was where we were going to talk. I clung on to Alix as if I was standing on the edge of a black, never ending hole. (I was only shy.) On the way to the coffee shop we had a little chat and guess what, her birthday is on the 13th of March, and my birthday is on the 11th of March. The coffee shop was really lovely; good choice! As we all took our places I suddenly realised that all this time I had been nervous, I shouldn’t have been Jacqueline Harvey was lovely and cheery and very beautiful. She had a lovely rose pink and grey scarf on and a dark black cardigan on. Her jeans looked almost brand new! During the coffee Jacqueline Harvey gave me some awesome freebees: she gave me some Alice-Miranda stationery, some stickers, a bag and much more! Soon after that we had to leave, but of course if you meet an author there are two things you must do: Get their autograph and have a picture. Of course I did both. After a few more pictures and some goodbye’s Alix told me that it was time to go, So I said my last good bye’s and gave her a hug and watched her until I couldn’t see her any more.

Safe to say that we both had a really enjoyable time and we hope to meet Jacqueline again when she comes back to London! Thank you very much, Jacqueline, for meeting us and for such a lovely coffee morning.

Visit Jacqueline Harvey's website here.

See my interview with Jacqueline Harvey here.

See the Huffington Post article here.

Until next time :)

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